Living with COVID-19 plan – 21 February 2022
On 21 February the Prime Minister announced the government’s Living with COVID-19 plan. You can find the full document and the Prime Minister’s statement online. You may also find this HSE page useful, as it provides the latest information on keeping workplaces safe from COVID-19.
The ongoing response will be structured around four principles:
- Living with COVID-19: removing domestic restrictions while encouraging safer behaviours through public health advice, in common with longstanding ways of managing most other respiratory illnesses;
- Protecting people most vulnerable to COVID-19: vaccination guided by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice, and deploying targeted testing.
- Maintaining resilience: ongoing surveillance, contingency planning and the ability to reintroduce key capabilities such as mass vaccination and testing in an emergency; and
- Securing innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response, including investment in life sciences.
Key announcements include:
- Ending of legal requirement to self isolate following a positive test result from 24 February.
- Ending of legal requirement to test for 7 days after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive from 24 February.
- End of routine contact tracing from 24 February.
- Ending of free testing for the general public from 1 April.
- Ending of guidance for voluntary COVID-status certification for certain venues from 1 April.
Government announcement on move to Plan A – 19 January 2022
England is returning to Plan A coronavirus restrictions:
Working from home guidance ends on 19 January and from 20 January, pupils will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms. Guidance on the rest of schools is due from the government’s education department.
From 27 January there will be:
- an end of mandatory face masks
- the end of mandatory Covid passes in England
- easing of care home restrictions.
And while there will still be a legal requirement to self-isolate, the prime minister says he does not expect to renew the regulations beyond 24 March when they currently expire.
Changes to isolation period – 22 December 2021
The isolation period following a positive test result for people who are fully vaccinated has changed. You can now leave self-isolation after 7 days provided you:
- Have a negative lateral flow test result on day six and seven after symptoms began and/or after a positive test result
- Don’t have an ongoing high temperature
Unvaccinated adults, or adults who have only had one vaccine dose, must continue to self-isolate for 10 days.
Government announcements on move to Plan B – 8 December 2021
The Prime Minister has announced a move to Plan B measures, as outlined in the Covid-19 Autumn/Winter Plan.
In summary, the measures announced on 8 December are:
- From 10 Dec, mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor settings (but will not include hospitality settings).
- From 13 Dec, guidance is for people to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.
- From 15 Dec, introduction of mandatory certification for certain settings. This will mean a requirement to show vaccination status or a recent negative test to enter certain high risk settings.
These measures are in addition to:
- A continued push on testing. This includes people testing before they meet others, socialise or go to crowded or enclosed places.
- A continued push on vaccines and boosters.
- Continued messaging on ventilation – let in fresh air when meeting indoors.
New safety measures – 30 November 2021
New and temporary measures have been introduced from 30 November as a precaution to slow down the spread of a newly identified variant of COVID-19, Omicron.
- All international arrivals must take a Day-2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
- All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status or age and will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as and on public transport unless you are exempt. All hospitality settings will be exempt.
- All staff, visitors and pupils or students in secondary school years 7 and above are strongly advised to wear a face covering in communal areas, unless exempt.
- South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola have been added to the UK’s travel red list. Passengers returning from any of these countries will need to isolate in a quarantine hotel. Quarantine exemptions due to compassionate and medical reasons apply. More details here.
Rules on face coverings are being updated in England – 30 November 2021
The public and staff in public facing areas will be required to wear face coverings in these settings from 4am on 30 November 2021:
- shops and supermarkets (places that offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- auction houses
- post offices, banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- estate and letting agents
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (barbers, hair salons, tattoo and piercing studios, nail salons, massage centres)
- premises providing veterinary services
- retail galleries
- retail travel agents
- takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
- public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses), taxis and private hire vehicles
- any car, van or HGV, during a professional driving lesson, a formal driving test, or during one of the practical tests for giving driving instruction
What a face covering is
In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which securely covers the nose and mouth. There are many types of face coverings available. Cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers (at least 2) and form a good fit around the face. Face coverings should be made of a material that you find comfortable and breathable, such as cotton. Bandanas or religious garments may be used but are likely to be less effective if they do not fit securely around the face.
Find out more about the differences between surgical face masks, PPE face masks, and face coverings.
The reason for using face coverings
When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) which may contain the virus that causes COVID-19. These particles can be breathed in by another person. Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected cough or sneeze near them, or if they touch them after coughing or sneezing onto their hands.
By covering your nose and mouth with a face covering, you’ll reduce the spread of droplets and aerosols carrying the virus by limiting the amount of the virus being released when you talk and breathe, helping to protect others.
You and your household should self-isolate at home If you develop any of the most important symptoms:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
You should arrange to have a PCR test to check for COVID-19. Wearing a face covering does not change this.
If your test is positive, you must self-isolate until 10 days after the day on which you first developed symptoms.
When you should wear a face covering
Members of the public should continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. For example, on public transport. Businesses, including transport operators, can also ask their employees and customers to wear face coverings. You should check with operators of services, venues, and settings that you use.
The Department for Transport has updated its guidance on safer travel for passengers.
Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance advises that patients and visitors across all healthcare settings should wear a face covering, providing it is tolerated and is not detrimental to their medical or care needs. They should also be worn in care homes to protect residents from the risk of infection.
The Department for Education (DfE) has its own guidance on the use of face coverings for schools and other education institutions that provide education for secondary school-age pupils, young people and adults in England.
Face visors, shields and transparent face coverings
A face visor or shield only provides limited protection compared to a face covering. This is because they do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles. Transparent face coverings can aid communication for those that require lip-reading or facial expressions. However, their effectiveness is not supported by evidence. To be most effective, a face covering should fit securely around the face to cover the nose and mouth. It should be made of a breathable material capable of filtering airborne particles.
If you’re not able to wear a face covering
Face coverings are expected and recommended in indoor spaces where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. However, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be respectful of these situations. Some people are less able to wear face coverings. The reasons for this may not always be visible.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- children under the age of 11 (Public Health England does not recommend face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- where the putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
- instances where people are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- police officers and other emergency workers – this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
There are also situations when you may be asked to remove a face covering, for example:
- when in a bank, building society, or post office for identification purposes
- when asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification purposes, for assessing health recommendations (for example. by a pharmacist), or for age identification purposes, such as when buying age-restricted products, such as alcohol
- if required to receive treatment or services, for example when getting a facial treatment
If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering you do not need to show:
- any written evidence of this
- an exemption card
This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering. However, some people may feel more comfortable if they are able to show something that explains why they’re not wearing a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a homemade sign. Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.
If you wish to use an exemption card or badge, you can download an exemption card template. You can then print these yourself or show them on a mobile device. Please note that the government is not able to provide physical exemption cards or badges.
How to wear a face covering
Face coverings with multiple layers and which fit closelly around the face work best. It is important that any face covering is worn correctly and handled with care. A face covering should:
- cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably (a nose wire may help with fit)
- fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
- be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
- be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
- ideally include at least 2 layers of fabric (the World Health Organization recommends 3, depending on the fabric used)
- unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged. Single-use disposable masks should not be washed and reused
When wearing a face covering you should:
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
- avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
- avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
- change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession (for example, when leaving and entering shops on a high street)
When removing a face covering:
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
- only handle the straps, ties or clips
- do not give it to someone else to use
- if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
- if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed
Face covering rules for businesses, venues and the workplace
Businesses and employers must complete a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks to the health and safety of their workforce and customers in their workplace or setting, including the risks of COVID-19.
Businesses can require or encourage customers, clients or their workers to wear a face covering.
When completing a risk assessment, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities.
If your business chooses to implement certain health and safety measures, you would need to consider carefully how this fits with:
- your business’ general health and safety duties
- other obligations to staff and customers arising from employment rights and equalities laws
All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance.
Where businesses require their workers to wear face coverings there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Businesses should be mindful and respectful of these. If your workers (including contractors) or customers choose to wear a face covering, you should support them in using face coverings safely.
Normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.
Maintaining and disposing of face coverings
Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin. Do not put them in a recycling bin.
Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products. If eating in a cafe, for example, it is important that you do not place the face covering on the table.
Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged.
The government has also published guidance on the safe disposal of waste for the public and businesses.
COVID-19: Working Safely Guidance – 19 July 2021
From 19 July, we will be moving to Step 4 of the Roadmap. To support businesses through this next phase, the ‘Working Safely’ guidance provides advice on sensible precautions employers can take to manage risk and support their staff and customers.
Guidance from Step 4:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Events and attractions
- Hotels and guest accommodation
- Offices, factories and laboratories
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services
- Shops, branches and close contact services
Roadmap to Recovery – 12 July 2021
The UK will move to the next stage of the roadmap on 19 July. The Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings.
This means that at Step 4:
- All remaining limits on social contact will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
- All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs.
- Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
- The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings.
- Social distancing rules will be lifted.
- Businesses will be encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.
- It is no longer necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home and employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.
The health secretary stated that it is important people act with caution. This means:
- A gradual return to work if people are working from home
- Trying to meet people outside
- It is recommended people wear face coverings in crowded indoor settings unless they are exempt
The requirement to self-isolate if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace will remain in place until 16 August, when it will be relaxed for people who have had both vaccine doses.
Guidance is available on the Government website.
Roadmap to Recovery – 14 June 2021
The Government has announced a four-week pause at Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown, meaning that existing restrictions remain in place. It is expected that we will now move to Step 4 on 19 July, though the data will be reviewed after two weeks.
However, some Step 3 restrictions will see rules changes on 21 June, including:
- weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions/celebrations
- commemorative events following a death such as a wake or ash scattering
- large events pilots
- care home visits
- domestic residential visits for children
Please see the latest GOV.UK guidance for further information on these changes.
Roadmap to Recovery: Key Dates and Phases – 22 February 2021
On 22 February the Prime Minister announced the timetable for easing lockdown in England. The roadmap outlines four phases for easing restrictions. Before proceeding to the next step, four conditions must be met at each phase of lockdown easing:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
- New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
Phase 1 (part 1): 8 March
All schools will reopen, and outdoor after-school activities will be allowed. Secondary school pupils and older will have to wear masks in classes.
Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor, with whom they can hold hands.
One person can sit down with another individual from outside their household or bubble for a coffee, drink or picnic. Children will still count towards this.
The “stay at home” order will otherwise stay in place.
Phase 1 (part 2): 29 March
Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, in parks and gardens.
Outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed including outdoor swimming pools.
The official stay at home order will end, but people will be encouraged to stay local.
People will still be asked to work from home where possible.
Phase 2: No earlier than 12 April
Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and pools, public buildings such as libraries and museums, and zoos and theme parks.
Most outdoor venues will reopen, including pubs and restaurants but only for outdoor tables and beer gardens. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol.
Reopening of holiday lets with no shared facilities, but only for one household.
Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.
Wider social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings, meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed.
Phase 3: No earlier than 17 May
Most mixing rules lifted outdoors, with a limit of 30 people meeting in parks or gardens.
Indoor mixing will be allowed, up to six people or two households.
Indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants, hotels, cinemas and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues.
Domestic overnight stays will be allowed and this will be the earliest date at which international holidays could resume.
For sport, indoor venues can have up to 1,000 spectators or half capacity, whichever is lower; outdoors the limit will be 4,000 people or half capacity, whichever is lower. Very large outdoor seated venues, such as big football stadiums, where crowds can be spread out, will have a limit of 10,000 people, or a quarter full, whichever is fewer.
Weddings will be allowed a limit of 30 people, with other events such as christenings and barmitzvahs also permitted.
Phase 4: No earlier than 21 June – Delayed to 19 July
All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.
There are likely to be changes to wider social distancing measures.
National Lockdown: What You Can and Cannot Do – 4 January 2020
It is currently illegal to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason to do so. A new three-part system of health measures at the border will come into force on 15 February for the minority who are travelling for exceptional purposes. The three parts are as follows: Hotel quarantine, testing and enforcement.
Any returning UK and Irish residents from red list countries will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room for 10 days from the time of arrival.
They will have to book a quarantine package through an online platform that will go live on 11 February. The package costs £1,750 for an individual travelling alone, which includes the hotel, transport and testing.
When they arrive, they will be escorted to a designated hotel and will need to remain in their rooms for 10 days.
From 15 February all international arrivals will be required by law to take two PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 of that quarantine. Before they travel, passengers will have to book the tests through an online portal that will go live on 11 February.
If either of these post-arrival tests comes back positive, passengers will have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of the test.
There will be fines in place for people who don’t comply:
- a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test
- a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days
- and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice, rising to £10,000, for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel
Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Click here to read the full statement by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
COVID-19 Vaccine – January 2021
Getting your COVID-19 vaccine protects not only you, but also your family, friends and community. The NHS are working hard to vaccinate people against COVID-19 and will let you know when it’s your turn to be vaccinated. Please ensure you take up your vaccination appointment when invited.
For more information, please visit Westminster Council’s page of FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine, which can be accessed here.
NHS Test and Trace – September 2020
From 24 September a wide range of premises including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, museums, churches and local authority public buildings will need to display a unique Quick Recognition Code at their entrance, which visitors will scan using the new NHS Test and Trace app. This will automatically register their presence at this location.
It will be a legal requirement, enforced by local authorities, for every relevant premises to display the QR code. Click here to access the government website to create a unique QR code for your premises.
The new government QR code will supersede any existing QR code systems and manual logging of names and numbers. It will not be a legal requirement to download and use the app.
You might find the below resources useful:
- Introducing the NHS Covid-19 App, NHS Test & Trace
- How to Create a QR Poster for Your Venue, NHS Test & Trace
- Tips for How to Display Your QR Poster, NHS Test & Trace
- How to Use QR Codes to Check Into a Venue, NHS Test & Trace
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Collection of Contact Details etc and Related Requirements) Regulations 2020, legislation.gov.uk
Guidance – July 2020
- Guidance for all workplace settings can be found here.
- Test & Trace guidance: Organisations in certain sectors should keep a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. Full guidance can be found here.
- TfL have spoken with many leisure and hospitality businesses and as a result have developed a short briefing for hospitality businesses.
- Westminster City Council has published guidance for pubs, bars and restaurants in response to questions they have received and to highlight any other information that may be useful. You can find them on the Council’s website here. Westminster published a licensing update on 24 July.
- Guidance on reduced VAT rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions can be found here.
Working Safely Tool – June 2020
To help employers reopen their businesses safely, the Government has launched a new tool to identify the most relevant guidance for your business. The guidance highlighted will help you carry out a risk assessment and make sensible adjustments to the site and workforce.
Employees can also use this guidance to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe.
This guidance is only for businesses that are allowed to reopen in England and can be found here.
Recovery Plan: Supporting Our Members – June 2020
Marble Arch London BID has launched its Recovery Plan, helping our members get back to business.
The Marble Arch Recovery Plan focuses on five pledges, as we emerge from this Covid-19 crisis to facilitate recovery.
- Advocacy and Lobbying – as the single external agency entirely focused on the Marble Arch and Edgware Road district, we have been working with Westminster City Council and Transport for London to create safer and wider walking routes, promoting food and beverage locations for extended tables and chairs and lobbying for a relaxation of Sunday trading laws. We have assisted business access grants and rates relief.
- A Safe Return – the BID has led the way on the external environment, providing queue markers and helping with queue management. We are helping our members access safe and sustainable travel options, as well as ensuring that work places can be Covid-safe.
- Enhanced Street Services – the Marble Arch Street Team are on hand to help our members six days a week, from 8am to 10pm. The BID is hot-washing pavements to ensure the environment clean, and we have successfully campaigned for the completion by TfL of crossing works at the remaining junctions on Edgware Road from July.
- Keeping you Connected – we will keep our members updated on the latest government advice and guidelines, and continue our popular webinar and training series, sharing best practice from overseas where it is applicable to the UK. We have joined the London Alliance consumer confidence campaign and are working with destination marketing agencies to roll out new domestic and international campaigns to support our hospitality sector. Our Community Programme has brought together hotels, venues and offices to support charities and schools throughout the crisis, and will continue to offer virtual volunteering until people return to their places of work and social distancing regulations are reduced.
- Advice and Intelligence – the BID will share real time information through our dedicated Covid Resource Centre, and ensure that every business sector receives the tailored advice and support it needs. Our Footfall Counters have proved invaluable in tracking visitor numbers throughout the pandemic and lockdown. An Edgware Road Insights Study is now underway to better define catchment areas and the impact of the pandemic on the district.
You can read or download our Marble Arch Recovery Plan here.
Recommendations for our members – June 2020
Going back to work
You can travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open. With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public.
However, businesses must behave responsibly now and mitigate risk of a second wave of infection. Please follow Government guidance, employees who can work from home should still work from home.
Here at Marble Arch BID we are linked into networks of other BIDs and we have used our sources to identify suppliers of PPE and other equipment businesses may need to prepare for re-opening, whether you are a shop, cafe or office or any other type of business. Please click here to see a list of recommended suppliers.
Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters has produced some security guidance as you get ready to reopen your business. It includes advice on queues and social distancing, search and screening, restricted entry points, and personnel and people security issues.
Staff and well-being
We recommend that your staff are trained and aware of any new rules and guidance that your business puts in place. These may include: regular hand-washing, guidance on what personal protection equipment (PPE) will be provided for staff, new cleaning regime, recommendations of the safest ways to travel to and from work e.g. flexible hours to avoid limited capacity on public transport, walking / cycling routes.
Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. If you would like to put in place a cycle to work scheme, please read the Department for Transport’s Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance for Employers, covering benefits, eligibility, equipment, taxation, and salary sacrifice and national insurance contributions.
It is evident from our conversation with local businesses on 6 May that the Government needs to provide accurate guidelines to help businesses get employees back to work safely, but businesses will need to do more to ensure employees feel safe, even more so in the hospitality and retail sectors where back of house staff often work in small spaces. Employers must communicate guidelines clearly and repeat them constantly.
Health and Safety Executive have published some guidance on how to keep people safe at work, click here to find out more.
The London Fire Brigade have published guidance on fire safety matters and returning to work after the Coronavirus lockdown. It contains helpful information from a fire safety perspective including matters related to management of assembly points and evacuation routes impacted by social distancing issues.
Queuing protocol and social distancing
It is important that shops respect neighbouring premises and work together to ensure customers can queue safely.
We are providing free social distancing floor stickers for the pavements outside stores to enable a district wide, uniformed system for safe queuing, please get in touch if you would like free floor markers for your business.
By the 1 June, we installed over 250 queue markers for more than 70 businesses, in over 100 different locations.
Please visit our Social Distancing page for more information.